[Debate] Jim Yong Kim secures World Bank job amid criticism of US domination of role
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Apr 16 20:21:09 BST 2012
* Business <http://www.guardian.co.uk/business>
* World Bank <http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/worldbank>
Jim Yong Kim secures World Bank job amid criticism of US domination of
Seoul-born Kim beats Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who
said the decision was not made on merit
Dominic Rushe <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/dominic-rushe>
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>, Monday 16 April 2012
* Article history
The World Bank said in a statement: 'We all look forward to working with
Dr Kim when he assumes his responsibilities.' Photograph: Andrew Harrer/EPA
The World Bank <http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/worldbank> named
Korean-born doctor Jim Yong Kim as its new president today amid
criticism that the role had once more gone to a US-nominated candidate.
The 52-year-old president of Ivy League college Dartmouth beat Nigerian
finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
to the post, the first time in the World Bank's history that the US
candidate has faced a serious challenge.
US president Barack Obama nominated Kim
to replace current World Bank chief Robert Zoellick in March. Kim, who
was born in Seoul, the South Korean capital, is a public health expert
-- a change from the bank's usual nomination of candidate from the
The World Bank presidency has gone to a US candidate since the
organisation was founded at the Bretton Woods conference at the close of
the second world war. The International Monetary Fund (IMF
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/imf>), its sister organisation, has
always been run by a European.
The US backed France's Christine Lagarde's nomination to the top role at
the IMF last year after the shock resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
In return, Kim received Europe's backing for the World Bank job.
But in recent years the organisations have faced growing criticism over
their US/European duopoly. Ahead of the announcement, Okonjo-Iweala
said: "You know this thing is not really being decided on merit."
"It is voting with political weight and shares, and therefore the United
States <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/usa> will get it," she told
reporters at a briefing on the country's 2012 budget.
A third candidate, Colombia's former finance minister Jose Antonio
Ocampo, pulled out of the race Friday, calling the selection process a
Okonjo-Iweala said that although she expected her challenge to the US's
nomination to fail, the process "will never ever be the same again".
"So we have won a big victory. Who gets to run the World Bank -- we have
shown we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of
running the entire architecture," she said.
Kim was a surprise nomination for the role. The 52-year-old is a leading
figure in global health and a former director of the HIV/Aids department
at the World Health Organization. He moved with his family to the US at
the age of five.
Brazillian and South African government officials reiterated their
support for Okonjo-Iweala on Monday. Before the announcement, South
African finance minister Pravin Gordhan said there was a need to "look
beyond the verbiage of democracy and the claims to democratic process,
and ask whether in substantive terms the institution has met the
In a statement, the World Bank said: "We, the executive directors, wish
to express our deep appreciation to all the nominees, Jim Yong Kim, José
Antonio Ocampo and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Their candidacies enriched the
discussion of the role of the president and of the World Bank group's
future direction. The final nominees received support from different
member countries, which reflected the high calibre of the candidates. We
all look forward to working with Dr Kim when he assumes his
Professor Simon Evenett, a former World Bank official who works at the
University of St Gallen in Switzerland, said Kim's appointment was
inevitable. "The Obama administration would almost certainly have
withheld support for Lagarde's appointment to the IMF if European
nations had not agreed in advance to support whomever was Washington's
candidate for the World Bank," he said.
"There was never really a contest. Some developing countries probably
figured this out and put up a strong candidate to embarrass the west,
hoping that this will lead to a more open process in the future. Don't
bet on that. The west won't give up its hold over these institutions
until they need something from the emerging markets."
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